David Cameron commits to defence and drones investment during Waddington visit

David Cameron has revealed plans for greater investment in counter-terrorism measures, including more drones, during a visit to RAF Waddington.

The Prime Minister visited both RAF Coningsby on Monday, July 13 and RAF Waddington – home to the UK’s ISTAR force from where Reaper missions are flown over Iraq and Syria.

Tornados and Reapers alone have flown over 1000 missions and struck over 300 ISIL targets.

The Prime Minister has told defence chiefs to consider increasing funding for special forces as part of the strategic defence and security review.

He also recommended a further investment in drones to combat the threat posed by Islamic extremists on his visit to RAF Waddington, which would include future air surveillance (ISTAR) assets such as more drones.

Following the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence in last week’s Budget, the Prime Minister hopes the Strategic Defence and Security Review – due to conclude in the Autumn – will prioritise resources that will help to protect the UK from evolving threats.

David Cameron said: “It is right that we spend 2% of our GDP on defence because this investment helps to keep us safe.

“Now we know how much we will spend, what matters next is how we spend it.

“I have tasked the Defence and Security Chiefs to look specifically at how we do more to counter the threat posed by ISIL and Islamist extremism.

“This could include more spy planes, drones and Special Forces. In the last five years, I have seen just how vital these assets are in keeping us safe.”

Member of Parliament for Lincoln Karl McCartney backed the call for a defence review on the day of the Prime Minister’s visit.

He said: “We must always put the national security of our country first. That’s why it is right that we spend at least 2% of our GDP on defence because this investment helps to keep us all safe. It has only been possible to spend this amount on our forces because of the difficult decisions we have made to ensure a strong and secure economy.

“Now we know how much we will spend, what matters next is how we spend it. The Prime Minister has tasked the Defence and Security Chiefs to look specifically at how we can do more to counter the threat posed by groups such as Daesh and those who support and are involved in Islamist extremism. This could include more spy planes, drones and action by our Special Forces.”

Drones opposition

The four protesters who broke into RAF Waddington with their supporters outside court.

The four protesters who broke into RAF Waddington with their supporters outside court.

RAF Waddington’s controversial drones operation has been met with opposition in the past by protestors, some of which even broke entry onto the base in order to get their message across.

Penny Walker (64) is expected to face a trial at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court in October, along with other activists from the End Drone Wars group, after cutting through the fence and protesting on the base.

She said: “I am extremely concerned to learn of David Cameron’s visit to the base today and of his plans for further spending on drones.

“Far from making the world a safer place, drones have played a significant part in the creation of ISIL and of mounting hostility to the US and the UK who are using them against Muslims in many countries.

“It is not risk-free warfare. Civilians on the ground are killed and when you are being fired on by invisible forces from the sky, there is no enemy to hit back at, and so British civilians are targeted instead, as happened in Tunisia.

“We are sliding into a situation of perpetual war, because drones make it all too easy to respond by attack rather than by diplomacy.

“There is an Early Day Motion (152) which calls on the Government “to devise and disclose a distinct and overarching policy on the use of British military drones as part of British defence strategy.” We are urging MPs to sign this so that proper thought is given to the consequences of drone use.

“Cameron’s visit today shows a lack of understanding of the impact of drones and is no doubt prompted by Britain’s close association with the US in all things military including joint drone missions and the sharing of intelligence.”